#81: Louise Martorano
When original RedLine director P.J. D’Amico stepped down, veteran deputy Louise Martorano was there to take the reins, assuring that the art center’s mission of supporting artists while engaging all sectors of the community would continue to evolve and grow. Mission accomplished: All systems are go as Martorano, a Denver native with a history of work in Colorado’s arts, music and film industries, oversees RedLine’s residencies, community programs and exhibition schedule. How are things going for her? Learn more as she answers the 100CC questionnaire.
If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Too many to name, but I think I would just loved to have been present when Coleman Hawkins was recording At Ease or when Tim Armstrong was touring A Poet’s Life – two records that I could not live without.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
The work of Laurie Jo Reynolds and the group of Chicago artists, poets and musicians that helped shut down the Tamms Correction Center supermax prison in Chicago, Illinois, in January of 2013. This work continues to interest and inspire me because I have often felt that art and artists have the sublime ability to show up and create a space for dialogue around any social, political and cultural challenge or injustice no matter how daunting, impossible or polarizing it may feel. The work of Laurie Jo Reynolds and this group of artists in collaboration with legislators, city officials, community organizations, families and the inmates themselves represents the amazing opportunity that we have to impact change by supporting and listening to artists. It also reminds me of artists’ unrelenting endurance and commitment to transformative ideas.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
I will probably get in trouble for saying this, but art auctions have always upset me because they hurt the market value of artists work and rarely compensate artists for the time, resources and energy invested into the creation of the work. I would like to see organizations explore different models and include the artists in conversations to develop new approaches that more fairly recognize the needs and talents of artist alongside the needs and mission of the organization.
What's your day job?
I am the Executive Director of RedLine, a nonprofit contemporary art center located in the Five Points/Curtis Park neighborhood. Our mission is to foster education and engagement between artists and communities to create positive social change.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
I would secure RedLine’s future in our community and help it to be a self-sustaining, strong and progressive contemporary arts organization. Also, I have dreamed of expanding RedLine upward to create affordable housing and more studios for artists (considering the demand for affordable studio space continues to swell). I would also love to expand our program space to include a theater, performance, woodshop, ceramic studio, printshop and better offices for RedLine’s amazing staff.
Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
I love Denver, Colorado. I was born, raised and went to school here, and it has always provided me a path to follow my interest and passion in the arts. I am grateful to be in a city where the art and music scenes continue to boom, and it has always enabled me to be a small part of fostering that growth.
What's the one thing Denver could do to help the arts?
I think that artists are the authors behind what makes any city great and the growth of the cultural scene directly impacts our population growth and economic vitality. That said, artists are frequently left behind, displaced or under-resourced during periods of economic growth. I would love for that trend to change in our community and for artists to always be prioritized, subsidized and supported as an important and valued contributor to the progress and assets of a vibrant city. I think the Imagine 2020 Cultural Plan is a great step in that direction.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
This is an impossible question to answer because I have been given the rare opportunity to be exposed to so many brilliant Colorado Creatives at and through RedLine. I would be remiss if I did not mention public art curator and project manager John Grant, who hired me and was a mentor to me at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver in 2007 and recommended me for the position at RedLine, and then Gretchen Marie Schaefer, artist and friend, and PJ D’Amico made sure I got the job. Also, I must point to a community of artists that inspired me the first day I began at RedLine – many of whom are currently artists at Tank Studios, like Ian Fisher and former Tank artist Beau Carey. They continue to be a driving inspiration of my work to find support and opportunities for contemporary artists living in and outside of Denver. I also want to point to my two colleagues and friends Cortney Lane Stell, Executive Director of Black Cube, and Robin Gallite, the Program Director at RedLine. I am lucky to have these two visionary individuals as part of my everyday life.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
RedLine is currently in the midst of our program year entitled R/Evolution, which explores the role artists have played in impacting human evolution through revolutionary ideas. In this important political year, RedLine is excited showcase through our exhibitions, programs and outreach efforts how artists of all ages are exploring the most important issues of our day. I would like to highlight one particular exhibit that opens this November — the twentieth-anniversary exhibition of The Artnauts, an artist collective founded by Dr. George Rivera. This two-part exhibition will feature the works of this locally, regionally and internationally reaching collective, as well as new commissioned works selected by Linda Wintraub, a New York-based arts writer, educator and curator.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
This is also tough question because there are so many artists who I would love to see recognized for the great work they do. If pressed, I have to cheer for the work of the artists I have seen at RedLine through our current resident and resource artist program. I also love the current work of Detour (aka Thomas Evans) who will be exhibiting at RedLine this summer. Detour has a neo-fauvist style that emerges through his portraiture of hip hop, soul and jazz musicians. His aggressive juxtaposition of neon colors further amplifies the legends of music that his works portray. Detour is primarily a painter, but then goes one step further by engineering his canvases to be touch-activated instruments – so visitors to his Temple studio can not only touch the art, but play it as well.
Learn more about residents, events and changing exhibits at RedLine online.